Thursday, February 5, 2015

Ninety-Nine


ごとばいん

ひともおし
ひともうらめし
あじきなく

よをおもうゆえに
ものおもうみは






99
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(Emperor) Gotoba-no-In

For some men I grieve.
Some men I hate!
And this wretched world

To me, weighted down with care,
Is a place of misery.







99

the world's events
pass over me
like summer showers.

In my old mind
wind and sun
go free.







Notes

The former Emperor looks back in sorrow and anger, most likely to the moment of his being exiled after leading an uprising up against the expanding shogunate.

Hokusai, in the final drawing available in this series, chooses a dramatic moment perhaps from the very moment of the Emperor's defeat. It shows forces entering a compound unopposed and centers upon a young soldier carrying out his duty with, it would seem, some self-satisfaction. Is he one of the Emperor's men, whom the exile mourns? Or the Shogun's, whom the exile hates? Most commentators assume the latter. But perhaps he is both. Violence is here simply personified. Such a waste of life, when and wherever it comes to this. 

Risa contrasts her present state with that of the former Emperor. It's not that she doesn't care how things turn out, nor is she an especially fine person. But as a commoner, she's not a mover and shaker who has moved against thousands (or millions, as in the last century) and shaken their babies to death. She has written for twenty years about how one lives peacefully, and done so herself the whole time, and, like Hokusai in the preceding image, is now turning away with something of a clear conscience. 

The wind blows in the grasses. Humanity will live, or, more likely, die. It is up to the younger generations now.


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